Presented on Wednesday, May 24, 2006 in the Barn at Quarry Farm. In a bitter diary entry near the end of his life, Mark Twain denounced "patriotism" as "that grotesque and laughable word The soul and substance of what customarily ranks as patriotism," he thundered," is moral cowardice and always has been." This denunciation reflected Twain's growing estrangement from politics following his wife's death, a time he saw as both a personal and national fall. America, Twain believed, had "thrown away" its "most valuable asset": the possibility for individual assent. Accordingly, Twain grew increasingly suspicious of patriotism, seeing the concept as militaristic and violent. Join David Caplan as he reexamines the limitations that such skepticism places on contemporary debates and suggests, instead, an alternative model of patriotism.
David Caplan is the Charles M. Weis Professor in English and the Associate Director of Creative Writing. His scholarly interests include poetics and contemporary poetry. He has published four book: Questions of Possibility: Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form (2004), Poetic From: An Introduction (2006), In the World He Created According to His Will (2010), and Rhyme's Challenge: Poetry, Hip Hop, and Contemporary Rhyming Culture (2014).